Emily Bathurst; or, at Home and Abroad
On the day which followed Emily's unsuccessful attempt to obtain the information she desired from Mr. Wilson and Dr. James, Archdeacon Somerton, with several members of his family and other friends, dined at Mrs. Bathurst's. The Archdeacon was godfather to Emily, and she regarded him with affectionate respect. He was exceedingly fond of music, and in the course of the evening Emily exerted herself at the harp and piano much to his satisfaction. As he stood by her side expressing the pleasure her performance had given him, she told him she had a great favour to ask him, and on his expressing his readiness to grant anything she might require, as far as he was able, she withdrew him to an ottoman rather apart from the other guests, who were engaged in their own conversation, and when she "had him," as she said, "all to herself," she added,page 76
"Now, my kind friend, do give me the information I have sought from others in vain. Tell me the origin and objects of the Church Missionary Society."A. S.
I wish, my dear child, that all favours were as easily granted; but to reply first by another question, What has brought this subject to your mind?E.
A most interesting account which my uncle gave me of the wonderful change wrought amongst The New Zealanders, and knowing that somehow or other this change was effected by means of the Church Missionary Society.A. S.
In order to answer your question fully, I must carry you back some time before the commencement of the Society, to show you the need of its formation. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel had been instituted by the heads of our Church as early as the year 1701. Though by its charter it has respect in the first instance to our colonies, yet by its title, public profession, and by the voice of its annual preachers, it page 77has pleaded, though alas! almost in vain, year after year for the extension of its Mission to the heathen world. From want of funds it is compelled entirely to confine its attention to our colonies, and is unable to meet anything like the necessities of these, which include vast numbers of heathens as well as European settlers.E.
Then it does not at present preach to the heathen as heathen, but as our fellow-subjects?A. S.
Exactly so. In 1709 the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge began to assist the Danish missionaries in Tranquebar48; and in 1728, undertook the sole support of a Mission to Madras49. Schwartz, Gerické, and many other eminent missionaries were supported by this Society.E.
Schwartz and Gerické were not English clergy, were they?A. S.
No; they were both Danes, and received their orders in the Lutheran Church. The celebrated Robert Boyle50 left a sum of money to be expended in the religious page 78instruction of the negroes; and in 1793, Dr. Porteus, then Bishop of London, established a society for that object.E.
Still, then, the Church of England made no effort for the conversion of the heathen?A. S.
No; although many of its members greatly desired that such exertions should be made. Several bodies of Dissenters had begun to make efforts in this direction; but the Church had not arisen to a sense of her duty in this respect. I must tell you that in 1783, a small Society was formed by a few of the London clergy, for religious intercourse and improvement, called the Eclectic Society. Its members met once a fortnight in the vestry of St. John's Episcopal Chapel, Bedford-row; and in these meetings the practicability and best method of sending out missionaries to the heathen were frequently discussed, and as early as 1796, made a matter of continued and earnest prayer. At this time, Messrs. Scott, Cecil, Venn, Goode, Pratt, and many others of page 79similar views, were members of the Eclectic. On the 18th of March, 1799, Mr. Venn proposed such resolutions as were finally acted upon. A Society was formed, a prospectus of their proceedings prepared, and their plans laid before the heads of the Church. On the 12th of April, a meeting was held at the Castle and Falcon Inn, Aldersgate-street, for the purpose of instituting a "Society among the Members of the Established Church, for sending Missionaries among the Heathen."E.
This, then, was the beginning of the Church Missionary Society. I really am exceedingly obliged to you. But did they go to New Zealand first?A. S.
Their first efforts were directed to Western Africa. But some time elapsed before a missionary offered himself for the work. No Englishman came forward, and the Society were obliged to send to the Missionary Institution at Berlin, to see if some foreigner could be found to undertake what our own countrymen did not seem page 80prepared to do. It was not till 1804, that Melchior Renner, a German, from the little kingdom of Wirtemberg51, and Peter Hartwig, a Prussian52, were sent out to commence missionary labours in Sierra Leone53 and the Susoo country54.E.
If England did not supply men, I hope, at least, she sent plenty of money.A. S.
The first year the receipts of the Society were little more than 900l.; and it was not till its fourteenth year that its income was increased to between 10,000l. and 11,000l. Now its income exceeds 100,000l.E.
But what is 100,000l. for England to give?A. S.
The same sum was expended on Crockford's gambling-house55 not long since.E.
And the railroads. What sums are being expended on railroads!A. S.
But then the speculators in railroads expect to have good interest for their money.E.
Yet the duty paid on mere articles of page 81luxury, and sometimes for hurtful imports, is very great.A. S.
True; the duty on rum in 1834, exceeded the present income of the Church Missionary Society.E.
Can you tell me why persons object to render assistance to what appears to me so very important an undertaking?A. S.
There are many reasons, my dear Emily, more than I could give you in one evening. Some persons are satisfied with their own pursuits, and with the every day concerns of life, and from deeply-rooted habits of self-indulgence, never think of the necessities and distresses of those who are not in their immediate circle. Such people are not hard-hearted. If a tale of distress is brought before them, their feelings are excited, and they willingly send relief to the sufferer; but they forget that it is their duty to seek out opportunities of doing good to others. They act from no steady principle of self-denial. It is not with them, "Such a portion of my income belongs to God, page 82and shall be devoted to works of charity;" but "I will give what I can spare from my own personal expenditure."
Emily was silent. Conscience told her that this had been her case, and she resolved to learn her duty better as to alms-giving56, and to act upon it.
"Then," continued the Archdeacon, "some persons seem to think it wrong to meddle with the religion of others. Believing that all who follow their own religion conscientiously are safe before God, they think it a pity to trouble the heathen to change a religion which suits them very well, though it might not do for us."E.
But do you think that no heathen can be saved?A. S.
My dear child, God forbid that I should decide a point on which His Word does not speak clearly! But when I read that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord," and see that it is written of the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, "that nothing can in any wise enter into it that page 83defileth;" and when I hear, on the other hand, of the revenge, lying, murders, and nameless abominations which are parts of heathen practice and worship, I confess that I cannot understand how those who live and die in the practice of such enormities, can be fit for the kingdom of God.E.
Besides, did not our Lord command his Apostles to "go and preach the Gospel to every creature?"A. S.
Certainly; and this command, I conceive, extends to Christians in all ages. But to return to another class of objectors. Some say that we ought to do all that is needed at home before we send out help to the heathen; that men and money are wanted in England, and that we are robbing our own country in helping others.E.
What should you say to these?A. S.
I should point to the command you have just quoted. Our Lord did not tell the Apostles to wait till all were converted at home before they went to surrounding and distant nations. I should also tell them, page 84that the more we do for others the more blessing we may expect for ourselves; and I should point to the fact that those individuals who are most liberal in donations to foreign objects, are generally the most liberal supporters of all works of benevolence and charity at home. I fear the good people who make this objection are usually anxious to save their own pockets. My experience does not lead me to believe that they give more to good works at home because they do not send help abroad, but decidedly the contrary. I fearlessly appeal to the lists of subscribers to various societies, hospitals, schools, &c, to prove my assertion. If you follow those men who are foremost in supporting missionary work to their country homes, you will find that there the deep stream of their benevolence flows noiselessly on; and the same individual who maintains the missionary and the orphan schools abroad, makes the English widows' and orphans' heart to sing for joy, and visits them in their abodes of sorrow, where no eye but page 85that of the All-seeing God marks their self-denying labours of love.E.
You think home duties the first, dear Sir, do you not?A. S.
Most decidedly; both in giving alms and in any other branch. Your first duties, Emily, are your fireside duties. If you fail in these you will perform no others acceptably. Your mother's comfort and your sisters' interests should be your primary objects. Then attend to your servants and friends. Look out for the best means of assisting those in distress around you, and supporting schools, and various local charities for the relief of the poor. Your clergyman, Mr. Wilson, will be your best adviser in these matters. But do not neglect your duty as a citizen of the world. Interest yourself in the good which is doing in so many countries of the earth. But in telling you your duties, which by the bye I am bound to do as your godfather, I am straying from the subject now uppermost in your mind.page 86 E.
You know how very much I value your kind little lectures and advice, though you said you should have nothing more to say to me after my confirmation.
"I do not think I must cast you off just yet," replied the Archdeacon, looking affectionately at his godchild, who seemed to hang upon his words. "May God bless you, my dear child, and enable you to keep the promises I made for you, and which you have now made for yourself."
Emily did not reply, but her countenance shewed how earnestly she joined in this hope.
"But," said the Archdeacon, smiling, "you little tempter, you make me think of you instead of my subject. I must go back to my objectors."E.
Have you not done with them yet? I am sure there ought to be no more.A. S.
Yet consider how few assist in missionary work. There must be more real or fancied reasons than those I have men-page 87tioned to prevent them from giving their aid. One class of persons object to the constitution of our Society.E.
You mean they think it a mixture of Church and Dissent?A. S.
Not exactly. This is an objection only urged by those who know nothing whatever about the matter, and has not the slightest foundation. All the Committee, and I believe I may say, almost all its supporters, are members of the Church of England. All our missionaries are ordained by the Bishop of London, or by one of the colonial bishops. The liturgy of our Church is as constantly used, and all its ordinances are as strictly attended to in the missionary stations as in any of the parishes of England, except where the absence of Bishops prevents the possibility of confirmation of baptized converts, and consecration of churches and burial-grounds. Far stricter Church discipline is exercised abroad than the English clergy are able to exercise over their respective flocks. The Archbishops and a page 88great number of Bishops support this Society, and only two or three years ago, the Bishop of London preached its annual sermon in St. Bride's church, so that the Society's being a mixture of Church and Dissent is altogether a fabrication of its' opposers. But some conscientious Church people object to the constitution of the Society.E.
In what way, may I ask?A. S.
The Committee is composed of both laymen and clergymen, and the Society is under the direction of this Committee. They decide where the missionary is to be located; though in all the stations which lie within the jurisdiction of a colonial Bishop, no missionary exercises his spiritual functions without a licence from him. They pay his salary, and to them he sends a report of his proceedings. They, of course, also decide whether a man is fit or otherwise to carry forward the objects of the Society. Some persons think that these powers should not be given to any body composed partly of page 89laymen, but that Bishops, and those nominated by them, should do it all.E.
But Bishops do not do everything in England. Does not the Queen, or rather her premier, who is a layman, appoint Bishops, and are not most livings bestowed by laymen on such clergymen as they choose to appoint?A. S.
True. And the Church Missionary Committee does little more than this. They do not decide whether a man is fit to be a clergyman or not; they only decide whether he is fit to forward the objects which the voluntary subscribers have appointed them to advance. They then present him to the Bishop for ordination, and if he thinks him fit to be a clergyman he ordains him. The patron of a living in England chooses the man for his living who best suits his views, and so assigns him such a portion of the temporalities57 of the Church as it is in his power to bestow. The Church Missionary Committee assign such temporalities as they see fit to their agents. There page 90is afterwards this difference. When a patron has once presented a clergyman to a living, he cannot be removed from it except by the Bishop and his Ecclesiastical Court; whereas the Church Missionary Society claims the right of deciding, on its own responsibility, not, mark, whether a man is fit to continue to exercise the functions of a clergyman or not, this they also leave to the Bishop, but whether an individual is fit or unfit to promote the objects of their Society. I cannot see that laymen may not decide such points, and therefore I do not object to the Church Missionary Society on this or on any other ground. They do but distribute temporalities as they conceive to be most in accordance with the rules of their Society.E.
I suppose the Committee have certain rules and regulations to follow.A. S.
The Society is founded on certain principles which the Committee are pledged to carry out. They have the distribution of funds, not their own, but subscribed by many thousands of persons, to forward certain page 91objects, and to advance certain principles. Now, if they find that an agent ceasea to forward these objects, or advances other principles, what can they do, as honest and conscientious men, but withhold from him any portion of funds which are intrusted to them for the special objects which, they and their agents are pledged to advance?
At this period of the conversation, Lady Mary S— approached the Archdeacon and Emily, and said good-naturedly, "I am quite curious to know the subject of your lengthened conversation. You are so engrossed with each other, that you have not given any one else five words all the evening. It is quite a monopoly of the Archdeacon on your part, Miss Bathurst."
"We should be most happy if your ladyship or any one else will take part in our conversation," and as the Archdeacon said this, he rose and begged Lady Mary to sit down on the ottoman by Emily.Lady M.
Well, then, I will; only you must bring that arm chair and sit in front page 92of us. No doubt my remarks will throw new light on whatever subject you may have been discussing. You look very maliciously incredulous, Miss Bathurst. I dare say the Archdeacon has had it all his own way, and you have done nothing but listen most dutifully, and say "yes," and "no," in the right place. If I join you, I must have my full and fair share of the conversation.A. S.
Here, then, behold me ready to act the part of listener, and to entreat you to enlighten my ignorance in any way you may think fit.Lady M.
Tell me, first, what you have been talking about.A. S.
Curiosity! All curiosity! You profess to come and impart wisdom to us only to induce us to tell you what you want to know.Lady M.
Miss Bathurst, won't you take pity on me, and relieve my woman's curiosity?E.
The Archdeacon has kindly been page 93giving me information relative to the Church. Missionary Society.Lady M.
Then, I am quite ready for an argument, for I do not like that Society at all.A. S.
What can it have done to excite your displeasure?Lady M.
It interferes so dreadfully with politics.
Emily looked aghast at this new charge against her beloved Society. The Archdeacon seemed somewhat surprised, but quickly remembering to what she must allude, remarked,—
"It rests with you, Lady Mary, to prove your assertion."Lady M.
What business had it to interfere with the New Zealand Company58, and excite such discussions in the House? Religious societies should keep to religion, and not meddle with what does not concern them.A. S.
It is undoubted that no person or society ought to interfere in what does not concern them, but you must prove that the question of the New Zealand Company did page 94not materially and intimately concern the Church Missionary Society.
But as this discussion will probably occupy some little time, and this chapter has already exceeded its due limits, we will leave this new difficulty to be overcome in the succeeding chapter.
48 Now Tharangambadi, was the first Danish trading post in India, sold to the British East India Company in 1845.
49 Now Chennai, is the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal .
50 An Anglo-Irish natural philosopher, chemist, physicist and inventor. One of the founders of modern chemistry.
51 The Kingdom of Württemberg was a German state from 1805 to 1918.
52 Prussians belonged to the prominent German state of Prussia that existed between 1525 and 1947.
53 A country on the southwest coast of West Africa.
54 The Susu people (also called Soso or Soussou) live primarily in Guinea and Northwestern Sierra Leone.
55 ‘Crockford’s’ was a popular name for William Crockford’s St James Club, a London gentlemen’s club established in 1823 and closed in 1845.
56 The practice of giving money or food to the impoverished.
57 Secular possessions, especially the properties and revenues of a religious body or a member of the clergy.
58 The New Zealand company was a British company which operated in the first half of the Nineteenth Century and aimed to systematically colonise New Zealand by exporting surplus population. The company established settlements at Wellington, Nelson, Wanganui and Dunedin with involvement in the settling of New Plymouth and Christchurch.